How to Eat Less

Three Methods:Reducing Your Portion SizeManaging Your HungerStaying Satisfied with Less Food

Obesity is quickly becoming a serious problem, not just in the United States but also around the world. One of the many ways to lose weight is to eat less. But this can be difficult especially if you're used to eating larger portions or have a difficult time managing your hunger. Luckily, there are a variety of ways you can get yourself to eat less and feel less hungry throughout the day. Making changes to what you eat, when you eat and how you eat can all influence you for the better.

Method 1
Reducing Your Portion Size

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    Measure every portion size. One simple way to eat less is to begin measuring portion sizes. Sticking to a limited portion can help you eat less.
    • Consider buying a food scale or measuring cups. Use these daily to measure all meals and snacks or to use during food prep.
    • Typical portion sizes for the five food groups are: 3 – 4 ounces of protein,[1] 1/2 cup of chopped fruit,[2] 1 cup of vegetables, 2 cups of leafy greens,[3] 1/2 cup of grains,[4] and 1 cup of milk and yogurt or 2 oz of cheese.[5]
    • Serve yourself one portion of protein, 1 – 2 fruits or vegetables and 1 serving of grains at most meals.
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    Use smaller plates. When you're measuring your portions, it might seem like there is a lot less food on your plate. This might make you feel deprived when you first move to measuring portions.
    • Using a smaller plate can help you trick your brain into thinking there is a larger volume of food. The same portion will take up more space on a smaller plate.[6]
    • Use salad plates, appetizer plates or even saucers to help cut down on the available space on your plate.
    • Consider purchasing blue plates. Studies have shown that people are more likely to leave food on their plates if their plates were a blue color.[7]
    • Buy smaller tupperware or take-away containers to pack meals. If you typically pack a meal, make sure to use smaller tupperware as well.
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    Remove temptations at meals. When you're eating, try to remove extra temptations from the table. This can help you focus on your meal only and decrease the chance you'll eat more than you should.
    • Don't bring bowls or platters of food to the table when you're able. This may tempt you to serve yourself seconds.[8]
    • Try to put all the food in the appropriate containers after serving yourself one portion. Package up leftovers and store in the refrigerator for leftovers.
    • It may also be helpful to only leave out healthier, low-calorie items if you feel you need more food. Keep out vegetables or fruit for a possible second serving.
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    Leave food on your plate. Try to leave some food on your plate, no matter how small, every time you have a meal.
    • Many of us are brought up not to waste food and habitually finish a meal even when full. Forcing yourself to leave something on your plate every meal breaks us out of that habit.
    • Start with leaving just a bite or two. It may be difficult to leave more initially.
    • Clear your plate immediately after you've decided you're done eating and leaving the extra food on your plate.
    • If you do not want to throw away or waste food, package leftovers and bring for lunch the next day or save for another dinner time meal.
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    Order small portions at restaurants. Restaurants are notorious for serving portions that are way too large. Take care when eating out to make sure you stay on track with portions.
    • It's hard to determine how much food you should eat when you're out (especially if you don't have a handy food scale around). Guesstimate as best you can. For example: 1 cup is about the size of a woman's fist, 3 – 4 oz is about the size of a deck of cards and 1/2 cup is about the size of a computer mouse.[9]
    • Try ordering a side dish or appetizer for a smaller portion of food.[10]
    • Try to visualize how much you should eat and push away the extra food. Ask for a box to take home the leftovers.[11]
    • Like at home, always leave food on your plate when you go out to eat.
    • You can also have the server box half of your meal up before it arrives.

Method 2
Managing Your Hunger

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    Fill up on liquids before meals. To help decrease your hunger, studies have shown that filling up on low or no calorie fluids can help you tame your hunger and eat less.[12]
    • If you are very hungry before a meal, drink a glass of water or have a bowl of broth or vegetable soup. Your stomach will feel physically full and the flavor can trick your brain into thinking it had more to eat.[13]
    • Other beverages to try include: unsweetened coffee or tea, flavored water or a glass of skim milk.
    • Also be sure to drink enough clear fluids throughout the day. If you don't replace all the fluids that you lose, you could get seriously ill.[14]
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    Eat filling and satisfying foods. Eating the right types of foods can also help you manage your hunger throughout the day.
    • Include lean protein at each meal. Lean protein is great for managing hunger. It takes your body a longer time to digest it and sends signals to your brain that you are satisfied.[15] Be sure to include 1 – 2 servings of lean protein at each meal and snack.
    • Focus on fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains. In addition to protein, fiber helps keep your body feeling fuller. It provides bulk and "roughage" to your meals and makes you feel satisfied with less and helps you stay satisfied longer.[16]
    • Examples of meals that are high protein and high fiber include: a grilled salmon salad, chicken or tofu stir-fry with brown rice, or a greek yogurt with fruit and nuts.
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    Go for minty flavors. Many studies have shown that having a minty flavor in your mouth can help decrease hunger throughout the day.[17]
    • Brush your teeth after meals! When your mouth feels clean, you will not want to eat and ruin that minty clean feeling. Try bringing a toothbrush with you at work to help prevent snacking during the afternoon.
    • Chew a stick of gum! A lot of people just want to have something to chew on. Chewing gum can help keep your mind off of eating and help trick your brain that you're eating.
    • Also try sipping on peppermint tea or sucking on sugar-free peppermint candies. Again, the minty flavor may help decrease your overall hunger.
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    Distract yourself. Many times feelings of hunger or food cravings hit us all of a sudden. In that moment it can feel like an intense craving that needs to be satisfied instantly.[18] Distracting yourself can help you manage these feelings.
    • Whether it's your sweet tooth or you're feeling a little bored in the afternoon, use some distraction techniques to get your mind off of food.
    • Many times cravings only last for 10 minutes or so. Give yourself at least 10 – 20 minutes of a distracting activity before addressing your craving (if you even need to).
    • Try: cleaning out a junk drawer, folding laundry, going for a short walk, taking a shower, reading a book, answering a few emails or surfing the internet.

Method 3
Staying Satisfied with Less Food

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    Take 20 – 30 minutes to eat your meal. Many health professionals recommend taking at least 20 minutes to eat your meal. This gives your body enough time to feel satisfied which may help you pass up on additional servings.[19]
    • The 20 minute rule comes from the fact that it takes about 20 – 30 minutes for food to travel from your stomach to your intestine. It's here that your intestines send a variety of chemical signals to your brain that it's satisfied and had enough food.
    • If you eat faster than that 20 minutes, you're more likely to eat more than you need and eat until the point you're feeling too full.[20]
    • Try setting a timer or watching the clock to help you meet that 20 minute guideline.
    • Drink a few sips of water between bites, put down your fork or talk to friends and family members to help slow you down.
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    Take your time chewing your food. Chewing your food thoroughly and taking your time with each bite is an important part of mindful eating and can help you feel more satisfied with a smaller portion.[21]
    • Take your time with each bite. As you chew think about the flavors, the textures and the smells of the food. Use as many senses as you can to analyze each little bite of your meal.
    • The concentration on your food and each bite can increase your satisfaction and let your brain enjoy the meal.
    • When you take big bites and don't chew well, your brain doesn't get any signals of enjoyment or satisfaction which can cause you to eat more.
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    Do not restrict your meals or foods. Many people will try to restrict foods or strictly limit treats for a diet or to aim for better health. However, overly restricting your diet can backfire.
    • Remember, the body can not and will not naturally lose (or gain) weight quickly. Changing your diet drastically, eating very few calories or limiting many foods isn't a healthy way of eating.
    • Never allowing yourself a treat or special indulgence can lead to overeating of that food or binge like behavior down the road.
    • Schedule in a special treat or indulgence every now and again. It can be once a week, twice a week or every Friday night. Find a schedule that works for you and that can keep you at the healthy weight you desire.


  • Eat slowly. It takes our brain about 20 minutes to register that we are full and by consuming our food faster, we continue past the point of realizing that we have eaten enough.
  • Use smaller plates. We have been programmed to eat everything on our plate and smaller plates mean smaller meals.
  • Stop drinking sugary soft drinks, and start drinking calorie-free alternatives and water.
  • If you're just craving something but not truly hungry, mentally step back for a bit and think through the craving. Often just taking the step to realize "Hey, do I really need to eat this or do I just crave this?" helps you to resist snacking on something you shouldn't.
  • If you can, get some exercise. There's really no better way of shedding pounds, especially when used in conjunction with a balanced diet.
  • Avoid the all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to healthy eating. Remember, every little bit counts!
  • Learn the difference between boredom and hunger. Many times, you can drink some water and the "hunger" will subside — meaning you weren't hungry to begin with.
  • When at a fast food restaurant, don't order the largest size simply because it's more economical. Recognize that you don't need all that food.
  • Don't try to drink eight glasses of water a day! This will not improve your health, instead you only need to replace the water that you lose.

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Categories: Losing Weight